EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 10 - 2006 Num. article: 2006/220

A theory of plant invasiveness based on biological traits in the area of origin

Theories proposing that the invasiveness of a plant can be predicted on the basis of its biological characteristics suppose the existence of certain key traits that may predispose non-indigenous species to rapid population expansion. The majority of studies which aimed to uncover these traits have ignored the biogeographic nature of plant invasions by focussing almost exclusively on characteristics observed in the area of introduction.
This study was designed to see whether the major predictions of plant invasiveness deriving from traits observed in the introduced range could also be verified from traits observed in the native range of invasive species. To this end, some plant species from Central-Europe which have been introduced into the USA were categorized into two groups: non-invasive and invasive in the USA. Results showed that a large native range and pre-adaptation of the invasive species to disturbances were the most important traits distinguishing invasive from non-invasive species. Although some reproductive traits were also important in delimiting these two groups (long flowering period, mixed breeding type, light seeds), other traits concerning reproduction, pollination, dispersal and competitive ability played no role.


Fenesi A, Botta-Dukát Z (2006) Testing the major predictions of the theory of plant invasiveness based on biological traits in the source area. In: Neobiota. From Ecology to Conservation. 4th European Conference on Biological Invasions. Vienna (Austria), 2006-09-27/29, BfN-Skripten 184: page 116.